Italian army buys additional Centauro II armored vehicles
On May 28, 2020, the National Arms Administration (Direzione Nazionale degli Armamenti) of the Italian Ministry of Defense announced a contract with the Italian consortium CIO (Consorzio Iveco-Oto Melara - created by Iveco and Leonardo - formerly Oto Melara, which is part of the latter) for the supply of land Italian troops 40 additional new wheeled (8x8) Centauro II armored vehicles (Nuove Blindo Centauro) with 120-mm guns.
These 40 cars must be delivered in a new version 3.0, together with the previous version 2.0, in which the first 10 production Centauro II cars were ordered. The contract price includes the conversion of a prototype Centauro II machine from version 2.0 to version 3.0 and its testing. The contract also includes a 10-year warranty service and the supply of spare parts and necessary equipment, including repair, training of personnel, and the supply of four spare sets of armored hulls and towers of Centauro II.
The contract option includes another 56 Centauro II vehicles (also in version 3.0), three armored repair and recovery vehicles on the chassis of the VBM Freccia wheeled armored personnel carrier, five spare sets of Centauro II armored vehicles and towers, service support, etc. The total value of the contract (with an option) is 1.1595 billion euros, which should be allocated from 2020 to 2030.
Earlier in July 2018, the Italian Ministry of Defense issued a CIO contract of € 159 million for the supply of the first 10 Centauro II production vehicles (2.0 version) to the Italian army, which should be delivered from the first quarter of 2021 to the first quarter of 2022.
The main external difference between the machine version 3.0 and version 2.0 will be the rejection of the characteristic four large circular integrated integrated antennas of the RCIED system installed on the prototype of the machine, combining communications, an identification system and a navigation system. They will be replaced in version 3.0 with a more compact four-sided antenna with headlamp mounted on the roof of the tower.
Also on machine version 3.0, new smoke grenade launchers (Rheinmetall ROSY), a new driver’s observation device, a fire control system (including for the possibility of using programmable 120 mm ammunition) should be installed, a machine-gun remotely controlled Leonardo HITROLE Light Mod turret should be installed . L2R, increased protection of the ammunition shell of gun shots, measures have been introduced to improve habitability.
Recall that the development of a new generation of cannon armored vehicles Centauro II (Nuova Blindo Centauro) with an 8x8 wheel arrangement was carried out by the CIO under a contract issued in October 2010 by the Italian Ministry of Defense. Centauro II is the ideological development of the famous Italian armored vehicle B1 Centauro created by CIO with a 105-mm gun, which has been in production since 1987 (more than 500 units were built, of which 400 were delivered to the Italian army, in addition, deliveries were made to Spain and Oman). A number of countries showed interest in the B1 Centauro, and in 2000-2002 16 cars were tested in the US Army, and in 2012-2014 two cars (in versions with 105 mm and 120 mm guns) were tested in Russia.
The Centauro II prototype was manufactured at Oto Melara in La Spezia in 2015. Currently, the Italian army plans to purchase a total of 136 to 150 Centauro II vehicles to replace most of the remaining fleet of Centauro B1 vehicles (of which 259 remain in the Italian army).
The Centauro II armored vehicle has a chassis based on the chassis of the VBM Freccia armored personnel carrier (8x8), but with a new armored body and a new Iveco Vector 8V diesel engine with more than 720 hp. (versus 520 hp for the old Centauro and 560 hp for Freccia). The combat weight of the Centauro II is officially 30 tons (versus 24 tons for the Centauro), but in fact, in fully equipped form, perhaps more. The length of the Centauro II hull is 7.4 m, the width is 3.14 m, the clearance is 0.4 m. The machine has an increased level of ballistic and mine protection.
Centauro II is equipped with a specially designed for it new tower (fighting compartment) Oto Melara (Leonardo) HITFACT II (Highly Integrated Technology, Fire Against Combat Tank), made of aluminum armor with an additional overhead composite ballistic protection. The calculation of the tower includes three people (commander, gunner, loader), placed in anti-mine seats.
The HITFACT II tower of the Centauro II is equipped with a 120 mm / 45 smooth-bore gun developed by Oto Melara (an optional 105 mm / 52 cannon can be used). The 120 mm / 45 gun has high ballistics, a muzzle brake and recoil reduction mechanisms, and is also equipped with a sensor for measuring the initial velocity of the projectile. The 120mm armor-piercing armor-piercing projectile designed for this gun is said to have armor penetration of 600 mm homogeneous steel armor (RHA) from a distance of 3000 m (angle not communicated). The 105-mm armor-piercing armor-piercing submunition shell of the Centauro armored vehicle has an armor penetration of 480 mm RHA from 2000 m. The shells in the HITFACT II turret are located in the aft compartment behind the fire barrier with a lockable door.
It is reported that the Italian army is considering the use of modern 120-mm rounds produced by the German Rheinmetall group used in Leopard 2 tanks - armor-piercing submachine guns DM53A1, multi-purpose DM11 with programmable fuse, high-explosive fragmentation RH31 (simplified version DM11 ) and practical DM78. Successful test firing of these shells from a Centauro machine with a 120-mm cannon was carried out in early 2015.
With a 120-mm cannon on a Centauro II machine, the 7.62-mm MG-42/59 machine gun is paired. A 12.7 mm M2 machine gun is mounted on the roof of the tower in the HITROLE Mod remotely controlled turret. L2R, and a 7.62 mm machine gun on a manual turret. The HITFACT II is equipped with a digital electric guidance system, duplicated by the commander and gunner.
The commander and gunner have a modern system for displaying information on large screens. The commander has nine optical periscopes for all-round visibility. The duplicated new automated architecture modular fire control system of the open architecture includes a digital computer, an automatic target tracking system and weather sensors. The commander has a new panoramic stabilized sight Leonardo Attila D, which includes a digital camera with the ability to 10x zoom, Erica-FF thermal imaging camera and a laser rangefinder. The gunner has a new stabilized Leonardo Lothar-S sight, which includes, in addition to a digital camera, a third-generation thermal imaging camera Tilde-A and a laser rangefinder, also a backup optical sight. The tower also installs the Leonardo SICCONA tank information and control system equipment (SIstema di Comando, COntrollio e Navigazione) and radio-electronic jamming suppression equipment for explosive devices.